Kirkwood High School student newspaper

Video Gamers’ Club brings esports to KHS

May 11, 2015

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Video Gamers’ Club brings esports to KHS

Ellie Cassidy

The final bell rings at KHS. It is 2:40 p.m., and, as the floodgates open, hundreds of student-athletes flow out the school’s doors and onto their respective courts and fields for another day of practice. These athletes, however, are not the only students left after the final bell. 30 kids have gathered in SC 202 for a Super Smash Bros tournament. The lights are off, the shades are down, the active board and projectors have become a battlefield for virtual fighters and the members of Video Gamers’ Club would not have it any other way.

Brendan Justin, junior, is the club’s second president since it started two years ago. Although this year is the first year the club has hosted competitive tournaments ($2 buy-in), Justin said he has been interested in hosting one for a while.

“Previously we had just done minor tournaments, and there wasn’t really anything at stake,” Justin said. “It was just for fun.”

Justin has watched professional gaming tournaments in the past, and he said they inspired him to host one at KHS. He compared watching these tournaments to watching any other professional sporting event.

“It’s exciting because in a really tight matchup you have absolutely no idea who is going to win, so it’s really intense,” Justin said.

Dominic Bottom, freshman, placed first in the Super Smash Bros tournament, which concluded April 16. Since then, subsequent competitions have been held with several games, such as the popular first person shooter Call of Duty. Bottom said placing first in just one of these tournaments was a blast.

“Winning was pretty exhilarating,” Bottom said. “It felt like winning any other kind of sport.”

Both Justin and Bottom are aware of the negative light some view gamers with, and they disagree. On the contrary, they argued gaming in general has a positive effect on people’s lives.

“If someone was completely isolated from 1-on-1 physical contact with people they would open up even through just online connection or actually going to functions where they can meet other people and play,” Justin said.

There are hundreds of major gaming tournaments worldwide each year, and Business Insider reported, as of July 2013, over 60 gamers have won $100,000 or more in prize money. Both Justin and Bottom said they would consider a career in electronic sports (eSports), but not for the money incentive.

“I think those gamers are misjudged,” Bottom said. “They train constantly and put forth as much effort into gaming as others do into their jobs or hobbies, if not more. It’s nice that people can receive recognition for their skills in any medium, even video games.”

There are more forms of competition at KHS than the sports seen on the school website. At the end of the day, there will always be people who compete through gaming, and in the case of eSports, it has become a professional, worldwide affair.

“Video games bring people together,” Bottom said. “In the case of eSports, it can bring together millions.”

 

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